Lance Monthly - May 2004
Big Boy Pete "The Margetson Demos" (Gear Fab Records).
Sounding like Buddy Holly on psychedelics, Big Boy Pete sings
edgy little pop rock delights sliced of strummy guitars and
spiky hooks. By the time Big Boy Pete (aka Pete Miller) launched
a solo career as a songwriter, he had already gained the reputation
as a well-respected musician amid England's bustling pop playground
of the sixties. Armed with a resume that involved stints with
The Offbeats, Peter Jay and The Jaywalkers, and The News,
he arguably made his mark and was no novice when it came to
the ins and outs of the business.
Starting in 1966, right through the end of the decade, Big
Boy Pete recorded literally hundreds of tunes at his home
studio in Norwich. Recent years have witnessed many of these
tapes being transferred to CD, and the latest packet of such
randy dandy revelations is "The Margetson Demos." As Big Boy
Pete comments in the accompanying liner notes, these tracks
were never intended for commercial release and were merely
preliminary stages before the actual masters were recorded.
He apologizes for the less than stellar quality of some of
the material, emphasizing how he attempted to get the inspiration
down as fast as possible or else the original feel and idea
of the song would evaporate and be gone forever. But if you
ask me, "The Margetson Demos" passes the audition with flying
Sounding like Buddy Holly on psychedelics, Big Boy Pete
sings edgy little pop rock delights sliced of strummy guitars
and spiky hooks. He also has a keen ear for detail, and his
lyrics are frequently picturesque and eccentric." If
Flowers Please Your Hair," "Nothingness Minus the
Fun," "Who in the Heck Do You Think You Are?"
and "Character Actors" specifically accent Big Boy
Pete's talent for crafting songs that are deceptively simple
and direct. The only cut on The Margetson Demos that materialized
on vinyl is the wiggy, Syd Barrett meets Frank Zappa styled
"My Love Is Like A Spaceship," which cropped up
on the flipside of Big Boy Pete's heralded "Cold Turkey"
By Beverly Paterson:
Evening News - July 20th. 2004
A new CD just
released in America is named after a Norwich road - once home
to one of the pioneers of rock 'n' roll in the city.
His name is Pete
Miller and the road is Margetson Avenue, Thorpe St. Andrew,
where he lived for the first 25 years of his life and created
his first recording studio. Nowadays Pete is better known
as "Big Boy Pete" of San Francisco.
in his early music has resulted in Pete being asked to release
some of those first tapes and The Margetson Demos contains
23 previously unheard tracks recorded between 1966 and 1968.
"Please forgive the tape hiss, unpolished arrangements,
out-of-tune vocals and lack of drums on some of these tracks.
These demos were never intended for commercial release,"
writes Pete on the sleeve.
One that is intended
for commercial release, and will be a treat for all fans of
the Evening News Golden Years, is an album that Pete is currently
remixing at his home in the U.S.A.
I have recorded with the original Offbeats, and due to the
amount of intercontinental travelling, it has been ten years
in the making," said Pete.
going to be very Norfolk. All original compositions. We have
even done our version of the Canaries' anthem. In view of
the club's championship, seems entirely appropraite,"
Norwich born and bred, Pete - a pupil of Norwich School -
was a teenager in the fifties when he saw an early Chuck Berry
film."I saw him duck-walk and it was all over. 'Sorry
mum, sorry dad. I'm not going to be that doctor you wanted,"
He teamed up with young friends Dave Wilson, Mike Lorenz,
Tony Woods and Luke Watson and they became The Offbeats -
now playing again thanks to The Golden Years, and back on
the road. Ace guitarist Pete went on to play lead guitar with
the biggest Norfolk group around. Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers
touring with the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
He tired of touring and came back to Norwich to write hundreds
He later joine the Norwich band, The News - a spin-off from
The Continentals - and toured the Far East before heading
for San Francisco where he has lived since the 1970s. - Derek
Demos is availbale from Gear Fab Records, PO Box 780639, Orlando,
FL 32878. email: GearFabRecords @aol.com
AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart - July 2005
Though he has not yet become a household name -- perhaps because he never spent time in an asylum, homeless shelter, or halfway house and because he actively continued to make and promote his music -- Pete Miller's body of work deserves the same sort of devoted coterie of enthusiasts as other great eccentric acid mavericks like Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, and Skip Spence. The Margetson Demos is still more evidence of Big Boy Pete's incomparable, fascinatingly bizarre vision. And his was no cheeky "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" punnery but the real "L.S.D." deal. The compilation features just what the title says: 23 unpolished demo recordings made by Miller alone at his home studio on Margetson Avenue on the outskirts of Norwich between the Technicolor years of 1966 and 1968, and released here for the first time. Miller himself confesses that many of these songs, to say nothing of the rough-hewn recordings and performances, are unfinished. Still, some of them are raw, inspired pop-psych lunacy of the best sort, including an inspired one-two-three commencement: "Nothingness Minus the Fun," "Baby, Get Some of That," and "Silhouette," the last with the opening riff of the Turtles' "Happy Together" apparently dancing in its head. The awesomely creepy "My Love Is Like a Spaceship," which eventually found its way onto the flip side of the classic "Cold Turkey," is here in its primitive form, and "The Painter" and "Charactor Actors" are also magnificent, even as half doses. It's not surprising that the songs strongest on tune are the most successful in this stripped-down state, while the ones heavier on mood -- dirges, drones, and soundscapes that would undoubtedly blossom with fuller, more sympathetic productions -- are less so. Even the lesser demos, though, retain the distinctive, unmistakable Big Boy Pete stamp. In his liner notes, Miller suggests that an enterprising artist might be interested in taking a crack at completing one or more of these tunes. It would need to be a remarkable artist.